A to Z Blogging Challenge 2021 – Theme Reveal

The last time I attempted this Blogging Challenge, my mother fell down in the kitchen, was seriously injured, we spent a long time in the hospital and within a month she was reduced to ashes and a lifetime of memories framed in one photograph that looks at me from its place on the table in the living room.

The last two years have been strange in more ways than one. In 2019, my submission was shortlisted at the Bangalore Literature Festival and I had a chance to pitch my work to some of the leading publishers in India. Nothing materialized out of it; but deep down there was a sense of satisfaction that I had proven several self-published authors who felt my work was juvenile to be wrong. Throughout the last quarter of 2019 and most of 2020, I was spitting blood. Corona lock-down added to my problems. Since my mother suffered severe pulmonary and renal issues, my first fear was that something was wrong with my lungs. Note that I do not smoke and I do not drink alcohol. After several incorrect diagnoses, the root of the problem was discovered and I underwent a surgery that removed a polyp from nose. Thankfully it was non-malignant and there was a long road to recovery, as I lost several pounds of body-weight. In all this chaos, I had to accept a job with a substantially lesser-pay than my previous role as Covid-19 reigned supreme.

It will be two years to the date since I attempted this challenge and my life is still a directionless path where there is neither chaos nor calm. No, I have not written another manuscript yet and I have not published anything worthy enough of my M.A. in English Literature in all these years barring one short story in a NanoWrimo Anthology that seems like an eternity ago.

So what do I write about this year? People have said that I am an impostor when it comes to poetry and my verse, at best, is like a poorly constructed limerick uttered by a drunkard retracing his path home on a dark moonless night. Cinema and books seem to have enough bloggers and podcasters to showcase their insights. This time I want to write about something deeply personal – FOOD.

I am looking to intersperse chapters or incidents that take some creative license and mix them with recipes that my mother taught me. I am not going to have photographs for each recipe or exact ratios/proportions of ingredients. A lot of it is from memory and notes that I had taken down when my mother used to narrate how to make a specific dish. I hope to do some justice to my mother’s exceptional culinary skills with this A to Z Blogging Challenge 2021. Wish me luck.

“Embracing your Shadows with the Goddesses” – An Innovative Journal Calendar

Good day dear readers of this blog. Hope all of you are doing well. Today I would like to introduce to you a young architect Miss Akshayaa Selvaraj. She is a fantastic artist and has come up with an innovative journal calendar named – “Embracing your Shadows with the Goddesses”.

Given below are some pictures for your perusal.

The images look fabulous right? I had chance to interview Akshayaa to learn more about her thoughts and this innovative new journal calendar. Read on:

Tell us a bit about yourself?
Iam  Akshayaa Selvaraj , an Architect , dreamer by default and a curious seeker of the magical experiences woven inside our Universe through  Art and Illustration.

Art beyond the canvas or medium imprints a powerful conversation onto the observer’s mind which can heal, inspire and profoundly affect a person’s life in a positive way, with that as a vision I try to create tangible simple everyday products and artwork that influences one’s life. Through my brand I had launched Calendars, colouring heritage postcards, wall arts , clay dolls , doodled art prints based on quotes  ,bookmarks , Illustrations , wedding cards and many more to come that works with this vision.

What prompted you to come up with this concept for a journal?
What started as a simple joy of celebrating the Goddess vibes through Art and Creativity during the season of Navratri six years back , evolved to a sacred ritual of Contemplation and Celebration.This year was a beautiful and transformative experience in getting to know and feel about the Manifestations of the Divine Mother as ” Dasamahavidyas ” Beyond the Myth , each manifestation of Devi Shakti has a deeper purposeand wisdom that bonded me to her energies which I expressed and reflected through Art and Words.I believe Art and Creativity is a beautiful expression that can be tangible, healing and transformative henceforth naturally!This experience allowed me to open up myself to self reflection and embracing the emotions and parts of me  that I ran away from  through Journalling and Wisdom imparted from the Goddesses.So I wanted to pass on this experience to everyone who desires to create theirown tangible experiences and  epiphanies through this “Embrace Journal Calendar”    and assist them every month with journal prompts and sharing experiences with creative journal making end of the year.

For each month you have presented a manifestation of the Goddess Divine? Is there a reason behind the sequencing and choice of Goddess for each month? If yes, please elaborate on the same.
I sequenced the Dasamahavidyas in the order they are generally represented or manifested and additionally included Mother Vinayaki  for the month of January honoring her as  the Goddess of beginnings and Mother Adiparasakthi for the month of December embodying as  the Divine Oneness of all the manifestation forms of her.

Appreciate the thought that has gone into marking “period days”. How else can men and women use this journal and calendar constructively?
The vision behind the Calendar is always to use it effectively and to induce more creative and sustainable ways of reusing it! In the Coverpage of the Embrace Calendar, I have intentionally illustrated some of the ways of using the Journal Calendar which can be tried out!

1. It has To-do lists , Birthday reminders and Period days which are so important as a part of Women’s health and an intentional way of normalising it in a Calendar.

2. Along with the twelve Calendar sheets , there are Four sheets with some fun puzzles and a personal letter to you to get started in understanding glimpses of inner work .

3.You get to work the magic only when you commit to show up for yourself and to choosing to do the inner-work in your creative essence, hence I am here to support  through gentle reminders , sharing experiences and by sending question prompts every month to get you started and going! They can also choose to participate and check out my Instagram stories on 28th – 30/ 31st of every month for the question prompts.

4.Add some more left over papers from your house , punch on some holes, stitch or tie up the pages together creating your own journal book and unleash your creativity !

5.Cut out the Art Prints end of every month and clip it on over the Clipboard without framing and use as a Decor !

6.Use the Clipboard happily or gift it to someone who would love it!

7.Stick or tie up the cut out Art prints , hang it over your favourite spot, add fairy lights,  sit  back and enjoy!

8. You can choose to create unique and reusable gifting options by choosing to gift the Artprints / Clipboard / Upcycled Envelope goodies during Navratri or Diwali and other occasions..

I am an atheist/agnostic. Can I still find purpose and reason to document my journey in this journal?

What you look at , you Expect!
What you don’t want to see , you fear ! What you see, TRANSFORMS ! 

The introductory page holds a creative exercise following with a dearest letter from me to you , which forms the crux of opening out the Calendar to everyone! We are always generally trained habitually from childhood to run away  or divert oneself from one’s own Emotions and Shadow aspects thus projecting it onto others in the fear of acknowledging and transforming it from inside.The Dasamahavidyas beyond their personified forms and image holds the highest wisdom of Embracing one’s Shadows and transforming it to Love.

There is a difference between what we choose to look at and what we choose not to see and see !   

We all have fragments of each “Dasamahavidyas” which were suppressed and Oppressed waiting to be seen , accepted and liberated with love. When we choose to see the Embodiment of Dasamhavidyas beyond the parameters of form and religion , we experience the line of resistance dissolving and allow ourselves to experience the inspiring wisdom and embodiment of embracing the Shadows.Nomatter the religious beliefs one holds , if they open out to see beyond the form , one can experience and be aware of their Shadow self through Journalling.This helps in identifying the blame game , Judgements and becoming aware of the stories we are quick to create , attach , react and choose to believe ! And stories are nothing but everything you see around you !The story you see reminds you of the story within you
❤ Allow 🧡Feel 💜Embrace

Any thoughts for young talented artists that you would like to share?
I always believe Art chooses you and it’s a Journey of becoming and being yourself in the process 💜At the current times, after much of interaction with fellow artists and my own experiences I have felt ,Social Media has a great impact of  making your self worth and values tied to the Number of likes , followers and strategies leading to questioning your journey and passion!But when you show up as yourself, doing what you exactly love to do for yourself and not for the external validation from sucking algorithms, comparisons and conditioning of social media, you open up yourself to experiencing  much creativity , inspiration and wonderful connections.Never get drowned into the end product, but just flow into the process of creating and look for all the inspiration around you from a little dried out leaf to magical sunsets!Never be afraid to be as yourself and always show up Authentically and your work evolves into a magical masterpiece!

Please provide the detailed specifications of the calendar and journal set.

 “Embrace – Your shadows with the Goddesses” – Journal Calendar 2021 has:

❤ 16, A5 sheets  (15cm x 21cm ) printed on textured Art sheets suited perfectly for journalling along with colouring and doodling !

❤ It includes 12 Calendar sheets featuring ” The Dasamahavidyas ” Illustrations
 including Holidays and Important days , To do lists , Birthday reminders and Period days.

❤ Handmade Clipboard of size (22 x 16 cm) , made with Upcycled fabric by the wonderful Artisans of Tilonia

❤” Iam ” Bookmark for your journal book or gifting with love

❤ Upcycled Handmade Envelope made from my School text books with goodies ( Mini Postcard + Mini Doodled print to colour )

P.s – Hello This is my experience of journalling and doing the innerwork with the goddess energy of the Dasamahavidyas and I pass it onto you for you to create your own tangible experience through Art and journalling.I want you to have real conversations and choose to buy this only if it rings a bell with your self!If you choose this , much gratitude and love for making it a part of your 365 days and beyond !

How do you start and what’s next ?

If it sounds an Yes to you, we can connect over an conversation if you have any questions, feel any limitations or to discuss if this suits your way!

Social media links and email :

Instagram  –  https://www.instagram.com/akshayaaselvaraj/?hl=en

Facebook  –  https://www.facebook.com/Akshayaa.undeliveredletters

Email ID     –  akshayaa.selvaraj@gmail.com

Please get in touch with Akshayaa on her social media accounts or via email to learn more about her art and to buy and use this fabulous and innovative journal calendar. Just one month has ended in 2021. There are 11 full months ahead that you can use productively and document your thoughts and express gratitude to others by writing and manifesting the power of the divinity that lies within you.

Thank you for reading this blog post. Do support an independent young creative artist and buy this journal calendar.

Come September

It is about five minutes past four in the afternoon or early evening, as I sit down to type this. A lot has happened in the last two months. Equations have changed, daggers drawn, daggers sheathed back, trust broken, trust regained, friends lost, friends gained, friends lost forever. It has been a strange two months, in more ways than one. I have shifted jobs after nearly six years of service in one organisation. At the new place of work, there is a lot to learn and implement, gain the trust and respect of colleagues, plan things, get work done, a lot of trust has been placed upon me and every single time from day one, the biggest fear has been that I will let down the ones who trust me the most. For all that I remember, the fear of failure and ridicule has driven me a lot in everything that I have done for the longest time that I can remember. I have been pushed to the corner literally and figuratively many a time and I have overcome challenges to focus on life.

This year so far has drained me out tremendously, I started the year with hope that I would set things right on the personal front, but everything that I do has returned to torment me like an evil nightmare that never stops. I thought I made peace with my past, but by some weird coincidence a bit of my past comes back and again I have to run, speak to people, calm things down. Friends have always appreciated my phenomenal memory power, but I seem to be forgetting a lot. The day I saw “Thanmatra” I was sure that I would go down Rameshan Nair’s way and like a weird premonition the memory lapses are recurring, a favourite book, a movie or a song, or an answer to a question or an important phone number, things are fading. The mirror does not lie, I try to run a bit the knees hurt, gradual exercise, patient breathing, controlled diet, nothing works, the waist expands like India’s economic debt.

For over 20 years, I have believed that I will write a novel of consequence, something that will be a treasured piece, but all I have managed to do is create a pseudo-aura of a pontificating puritan who just finds errors in what others write. When others come to me for advice, I wonder – “What do you see in me; that ensures you that you have come to the right person?” – I keep these thoughts to myself and help others.

No point in harping about Amma as she keeps vacillating between ill, very ill and forever bossing me around to get things done at home! One fine day, I am just going to stop, point at the sky, say “God told me to stop listening to you”, look at her and say, “I have a life as well”. As you know very well, all this is imagination and will never turn to reality.

Externally everything seems fine, but internally there is a deep-rooted melancholy at the inevitable tragedy that the visions foretell.

Come September,

Come embrace me,

In your comfort,

Far away in a world,

Where light and cheer spreads,

Flowers bloom and brooks babble,

Away from the madness,

Of the mundane chores,

Of an existential crisis,

And a battle for survival,

I hope to find peace.

Here’s wishing you a positive, fun-filled, productive and awesome September!

2014 – Glimpses in Verse

Running around in hospitals,
Chasing pharmacies for medicines,
Hoping things would improve.
Things are mildly better.

Of a solo visit to Tiruvanamalai,
Spending time in a shelter for animals,
Moved by the love that the workers,
Shower on the creatures.

Spending time alone,
In Ramana Ashramam,
And awe-inspired by,
The massive temple.

Visiting Thirukadaiyur,
And being blessed by elders,
A friend who is a brother now,
Thanks for the opportunity Bragadeesh.

Meeting a financial expert,
Akin to a character from a book,
Anand sir and family,
Thanks for the beautiful trips.

From Karur and Namakal,
To Kumbakonam and Thirumayichur,
Lots of wonderful memories,
To cherish all along.

Of Radha ji and the Azure Book Club,
Lots of fascinating things,
All centered around books,
Thanks for a wonderful time.

Of all the books that were read,
A book by a wonderful thinker,
Avis sir’s – ‘Fall like a Rose Petal’
Is indeed a special book!

Of losing my phone,
In the mad rush of the train.
And unexpectedly winning a prize,
A phone for a writing competition!

Of work and colleagues,
Thanks to the Lord,
For all the patience,
That my employers and colleagues have!

Of friendships lost and gained,
Of realizing that somethings are,
Just not meant to be,
One learns to put the ‘fake smile’.

Of marriages all around,
Good times and happy memories.
Lovely feasts and lengthy rituals.
The clock keeps ticking!

As 2014 draws slowly to a close,
With a week more to go,
Here is wishing all my friends,
Real and virtual, known and unknown —
A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!

Matrikas Journal and Notebooks – Product Review

There is something special,
About jotting down,
One’s thoughts in a diary.
The feeling of closure,
When one writes down,
The day’s highs and lows,
The dreams and expectations,
The truth and reality,
All in our diary,
Using a pen in our own hands.
A diary is an extremely personal tool.

Something like a magic lamp,
When in the future,
We open the diary,
All the memories of the past,
Flash by in multi-coloured hues.
Page after page,
To remind us how far,
We have travelled in life.
And to remind us,
Many miles lie ahead!!!

I had a chance to review a set of journals/notebooks/diaries from Matrikas Paper Products. This is part of a Blogger Engagement Initiative and I am really thankful to fellow blogger Sulaiman who recommended this to me. I filled up a form on Facebook (Part of a Matrikas App). I received a courier well-packed with the products.

I have been writing personal journals for over 17 years now, starting from old corporate diaries that the elders in the family used to hand down to fancy notebooks and handmade-paper books and recycled paper notebooks, I have used a wide spectrum of products. A couple of years back I bought journal books sold by the Isha Foundation and loved the intricate cover designs and the paper quality.

This set of products from Matrikas took me by surprise and impressed me with the beautiful cover designs and top-class paper thickness and quality. I would like to recommend their products to all those who love to write.

Go ahead contact Matrikas right away 🙂

The Last Job

No, no this is not a crime fiction piece of an ageing hitman attempting one last ‘hit’ before retiring!

This my friends is a true-life scenario that holds good for those in the field of content creation services as part of their daily bread and butter, dal and roti, or rice and sambar as you please!!!

Today a very important report had to go out and there were three errors, very minor errors in the report, text and punctuation.

‘As an editor and a writer – you are only as good as your last job!’

This is what my creative writing professor said and my Instructional Design Training mentors kept repeating!

I messed it up today – one of those rare days; where lethargy crept in – thankfully the report was for internal use and nothing to go to clients or third-party vendors/agencies. Thankfully I still have my job!!!! Just wonder if this was a top-secret project report or a client-deliverable!!!

I need to ensure that I do not lose focus!!!!

Got really scared!!!! This is a reminder to oneself – all your years of technical and non-technical writing are not going to help you if an error creeps into an important document!!!! BE CAREFUL – YOU FOOL – BE CAREFUL!!!!!!

A Warrior of Light

An article caught my eye on the popular website Rediff today. It was about a writer called MP Anil Kumar who contributed articles to the portal. He had passed away earlier in the day. As I read the article; my eyes moistened and I fought my tears as I saw the ex-IAF officer’s life unfold before me.

We may all have our individual problems and issues and keep cursing Fate or God for the circumstances we are in – but this officer whose brilliant career was cut short by a tragic freak accident fought; fought with determination and will-power. Read the following web-pages for an insight into a wonderful warrior, writer, teacher and above all a person with indomitable courage!

A salute to you sir!!!

http://www.chairbornewarrior.wordpress.com

Click to access MP%20Article2.pdf